Beware the risks of online shopping

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The Holiday Shopping Season is in full swing, and it’s hard to miss all the buzz around the many holiday sales.  From commercials to print ads, retailers want to capitalize on the millions of eyes hoping to snag that great deal on a present their loved one has been eyeing all year. This combination creates the opportunity for scammers to generate disingenuous websites and emails to trap people into paying for items they will never see.

This past “Cyber” Monday, I talked with Scott Budman, tech reporter with NBC Bay Area News.  Scott and I discussed the risks of online shopping and steps that consumers can take to protect themselves.

Click here to view the NBC Bay Area report

It’s always smart to use best practices when shopping online.  Do not be fooled by that “must have” “holiday bargain.”  Before purchasing anything online this shopping season, always do your due diligence. Here are a few tips:

  • Look out for plain or sloppy looking websites as a warning, these typically look as if they have been quickly put together with minimal tabs and functionality. Check any website for suspicious spelling and contact information, these fake sites are so quickly put together, often times spell checking isn’t their highest priority.
  • Do a bit of research and go directly to the name brand website to see what offers are on the official website – unfortunately, some offers are just “too good to be true”
  • Check for secure payment information as well as making sure there’s a refund policy – make sure you see a lock icon in your browser whenever you are making an online purchase.  Example:

  • Use common sense, if the website doesn’t seem legit, don’t buy anything on it, there are plenty of real and secure online shops available to you as a consumer

Reminder – As a consumer, you have the upper hand when it comes to buying merchandise online. Remember, it’s up to you to visit, leave or purchase items from a website, if something feels off or asks for unnecessary personal information – just leave.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself from online fraud, click here to visit the USA.gov Online Safety Site.

 

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